Shift of Demand on UK Property Marketplaces

The market situation on UK property marketplaces for bridge loans with high interest rates has turned drastically in the past 2 months. For a long time before there has usually been much more investor demand than could be soaked up by loan demand. That the situation has changed is most visible on the loans on offer (mostly through the secondary markets). There is currently nearly 8 million GBP on offer on Lendy (that was close to nil 8 weeks ago). At Moneything there is 2 million GBP on offer and at Fundingsecure 0.6 million GBP. Collateral recently raised the interest rate for new loans from 12 to 14%.

So what is causing this change? I will look at possible causes and measures the marketplaces could take to react.

  • Have property prices peaked?
    Building activity and property prices are influenced by the economy. This Guardian article says UK house prices fell three month in a row. Should investors think, the economic climate is cooling down, they might be more cautious as loans to property developers would be affected in a downturn.
  • Defaults are rising on Lendy
    Loans that are more than 180 days overdue are categorized as default loans on Lendy. There are now 19 loans in default, with the total loan amount in these loans adding up to 23 million GBP. While this does not mean that money will be lost – the loans are secured by the property, it makes investors cautious and hesitant, asking more questions about valuations and collection procedures.
  • Lenders might fear that the assets become increasingly illiquid
    Part of the attraction of Lendy and Moneything in the past (aside from the high interest rate) came from the fact that loans could be sold very fast, usually within hours for most loans that were not overdue. That has changed on Lendy and might be currently changing on Moneything. However with the queues for sales building up on Lendy it is too easy to just look at the nearly 8 million GBP on offer and deduct that it takes very long to sell loans. Not all loans are equally liquid. I sold 400 GBP of DFL025 recently. Despite over 35,000 GBP in the queue before me, my part sold within 3 days.
    A major factor with the longer selling times is that on Lendy, investors forego interest while the loan part is on sale. On Moneything it continues to accrue interest while on sale.
  • UK investors are increasing their stake in tax sheltered IFISA products
    That is my favourite explanation. The shift in the above markets 2 months ago coincides with the launch of many IFISA offers on other UK marketplaces. Lendy, Monything and Collateral currently do not offer IFISAs. Check the database for best IFISA rates of other marketplaces. Fundingsecure has an IFISA. I am not currently investing on Fundingsecure, therefore I am not as closely monitoring the market developments on Fundingsecure as on Lendy or Moneything. But it seems that investor demand on Fundingsecure has not changed as much as on Lendy or Moneything. It is obvious that UK investors will prefer to invest in IFISA offers, at least until their yearly allowance of 20,000 GBP is reached.
  • Brexit and pound uncertainty pause international investors
    All of the above platforms are open for international investors. I currently run a survey among German speaking investors on my German p2p lending forum. 31% precent of respondents have already invested on UK marketplaces. But 5% want to reduce their level of investment because of the uncertainty of the pound development and for this reason 20% will not consider to start on UK marketplaces.

So what could marketplaces do and what measures are they already taking?

  • Attract more investors, increase marketing spend
    I believe this is already happening. Lendy revamped the referral program as of June 1st and Collateral announced it will launch one soon. Lendy will sponsor the ‘Lendy Cowes week’ sailing regatta. I have doubts this will be cost effective, but its hard to tell from the outside without access to hard figures. I know of other p2p lending platforms that sponsored golf events in the hope of targeting and attracting the right audience and discontinued that (for reasons unknown to me).
  • Launch an IFISA
    Actually I think this would most profoundly change the situation for Lendy. However for that Lendy first needs to get full FCA approval. Moneything has recently said it has put an IFISA higher on the priority list, but it is still not imminent but planned for later this year.
  • Find ‘different’ sources of capital
    This could be institutional money. Or a differently structed offer like the Lendy bond. But it is to early to tell how the Lendy bond is taken up.
  • Raise interest rates
    Collateral has taken this step. And Moneything offered 1 percent more on a very large loan. I don’t think Lendy will take this route as it recently moved from 12% interest for all loans to a broader range of 7 to 12% interest rates.
  • Change the model of the secondary market
    Lendy and Moneything currently have secondary operating at par value. The investor community seems split. While some applaud the simplicity and ease of use of this model, others argue to allow discounts (and possibly premiums). One argument for discounts and premiums is that it might better match demand and supply. Counterarguments are that p2p lending is not a high volume market and variable pricing would not be suitable and that premiums will attract traders. Also some feel that seeing discounts will furthermore undermine trust and deter new investors from signing up.
  • Show recovery results and better communication and transparency of collection efforts
    Obviously full recovery on defaults would be a most effective measure to increase confidence and trust of investors. However this will take time and I don’t think haste would do the results good. Therefore the only thing Lendy could do short-term is communicate more and in more detail.

What is your opinion, dear reader?

P.S.: On the continent at Estateguru with its 10-12.5% interest property loans there is no change of market conditions. Investor demand continues to outstrip loan supply.

My Moneything Investment Experience after 13 Months

Last year I started investing on British p2p lending marketplace Moneything. Read my past article about opening a Moneything account. Moneything mostly offers property backed loans, with a few different asset-backed deals in between. I used Transferwise and Currencyfair to deposit money from my Euro account. Recently I also used the Revolut App to transfer money from another UK p2p lending marketplace to Moneything.

Looking back over the past year my experience with investing on Moneything has been very good. I am invested in 31 loans right now, mostly at 12% interest rate with small amounts also at 10.5%, 11% and 13% invested. I have had no defaults and there are no fees for investors. The website functions well and support is reported to be very responsive (I actually did not need it yet). The secondary market is extremly liquid, loan parts often sell within second. The only two minor downsides of the Moneything platforms for me are that investor demand by far outstrip loan offers. And there is no autoinvest, so usually it is necessary to login shortly after 4pm UK to invest into new loans. My yield (self calculated with XIRR) so far is 12.0% in GBP. However due to currency fluctuation in EUR it is only 7.2% at the moment.

So if all is great, why did I not invest more? Well, I planned to, but shortly after I started, Brexit vote took me by surprise and I abandonned my plans to ramp up my investment amount, due to the higher currency volatility uncertainty. Instead I am now mainly reinvesting funds and in addition add funds already in GBP, which I move over from other UK platforms via Revolut.

Earlier this month Moneything gained full FCA approval. This is the prerequisite for launching an IFISA product, which allows tax-free investing for UK investors (compare IFISA providers in our database). Surprisingly Moneything just said, they are in no hurry to launch an IFISA offer but rather wants to built loan originations first. This makes sense because the increased deposit influx by an IFISA offer would imbalance demand and supply even further.

Moneything Gains Full FCA Authorisation

Moneything logoMoneything announced  today that have been fully authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Moneything see this as a significant milestone for our business and the result of just over 18 months’ work that involved the scrutiny of every aspect of our business.

In the announcement Moneything says

Many platforms in the P2P industry are working hard to gain their full permissions and we are one of the first few platforms to be granted full authorisation, ahead of some of the largest P2P companies.

This will help to give our lenders and borrowers confidence that we meet high standards in the way we operate, based on the regulations set by the FCA.

We have had some extraordinary assistance along this journey from our compliance consultants and our legal advisors who have helped us to navigate the complex regulatory landscape. We would like to thank them and the MoneyThing team who have all contributed to our authorisation.

There will be a few changes as a result of our authorisation. Significantly, we are no longer able to pre-fund loans and we will be introducing new lender terms for new loans. A full update on the changes and how they will affect lenders will be provided shortly.

Now we are authorised we can look towards launching an IFISA offering to lenders. This will be subject to HMRC approval and we will release further information in the coming months.

Continue reading

I Opened a MoneyThing Account

Moneything logoTo achieve further diversification of my p2p lending investments I opened an account at the UK p2p lending marketplace MoneyThing. All loans on the platform are secured by assets, which consist of a mix of property and other items like cars. MoneyThing launched one year ago and has since originated 10 million GBP in secured loans. It is operated by Capital Mortgages Direct Ltd. in London. So far none of these loans had any troubles.

The key aspects for investors:

  • 12% interest rate p.a.
  • interest paid from the day the bid is made into a loan
  • no fees for investors
  • all loans secured by assets
  • bridge loans with a term of 3 to 24 months
  • there is a secondary market
  • minimum deposit is 100 GBP, minimum bid is 1 GBP

Steps to start lending

1. Registering

First I filled in the online form. MoneyThing is open to international investors, but the form had no country field, so I did enter town and country in the ‘town’ field. Later the same day I got an email from support asking me for ID and a further document to be uploaded as non-UK residents can not be automatically verified by their systems. I did that and within 5 minutes received the message that my account is now verified

2. Depositing

I used Transferwise to make my first deposit into the account to reduce transfer and currency exchange costs. A Transferwise alternative is Currencyfair. This time Transferwise took 3 days – a little longer than my usual experience for transfering to the UK with them.

3. Selecting the loans on the market

MoneyThing lists all loans in a single market view – there is no separate secondary market view. All available loan parts are highlighted in yellow. Since loans are sorted chronologically to find parts of older loans on sale the easiest way is to resort by the ‘Available’ column. Otherwise just scroll down.

Moneything loan listings

Clicking on a loan reveals detail information about a loan and supporting documents (e.g. a valuation report). Continue reading

P2P Lending Experiences of a British Expat Living in the Eurozone

This is a guest post by British investor ‘JamesFrance‘.

Since retiring and leaving the UK to live in a warmer dryer part of Europe, I fortunately found myself able to live on less than my income, so had the problem of how to best manage these savings, which I wanted to protect from inflation and if possible achieve a positive return on by some type of short term investment. Unfortunately I never found a British savings account which would accept money from non residents, so I was obliged to accept a very low interest rate from my existing UK bank. I do have other long term investments so was prepared to take some risk to achieve a better return.

I had seen articles in the British press about Peer to Peer lending, which tended to refer to the big three, Zopa, Ratesetter and Funding Circle, none of which were prepared to allow a non resident to open an account, so I soon forgot about that as a possibility.   In August 2013 I read that another P2P business lending platform, Thincats, was joining the P2P finance association. I decided to look at their website and was surprised to learn that they could accept non resident investors.

Thincats is really for those with larger amounts to invest, having a minimum bid of 1000 GBP per loan, so it is difficult to achieve adequate diversification for relatively small sums without using their syndicates, which I didn’t find interesting, so I took the plunge and made 10 loans.   Needing 1000 GBP per loan meant that after that it took me some time to accumulate enough for my next bid, so I had the problem of uninvested money not earning until my next loan drew down.   I also found that some loans were repaid early which was reducing my returns because of the drawdown delays.   I think this would be an ideal platform for those with large amounts to invest, as they have a good flow of loans, there is plenty of information about the borrowing companies and once their new website is launched the process should be much easier.   A minimum 25 GBP fee for selling a loan on the secondary market makes it expensive to sell smaller amounts, which means that after several repayments a sale would not be economic.

By this time I was finding other possibilities with the help of websites such as P2P-Banking.com, where I read about isePankur in Estonia, which has an English language version and seemed ideal for any spare Euros languishing in my Euro account and only earning a secure 1% interest. isePankur now renamed Bondora, has been quite exciting to invest through as there have been many changes to the auto bidding system since I started there in September 2013, so just as I became used to the way my chioices were working out, it was all change so I had to start again to think of a good strategy.   They have been expanding rapidly and now issue personal loans in 4 European markets.   The defaut rates for their Spanish and Slovakian loans have been very high, so I have been avoiding those areas since that became apparent, which means time consuming manual investment because the auto bid system no longer allows choice of country.   I do not sell overdue loans on the secondary market, so my returns on the platform will be completely dependent on the eventual recovery of the defaulted loans, which will only become apparent after a few years.   The interest rates are high so I have accepted the level of risk involved. Continue reading